“Noooo … I think you are going to have to stop planning trips”, was one friend’s response when I told her what happened two days before I was meant to leave for a week-end in New York City.
My right side is generally sore since I spend a lot of time lying on it. If I try any other position, I cough. Since last August I have only been able to sleep on my right side. I’m amazed it has held up so well. But one Tuesday in June as I bent over to lift a watering can (which I do 20 times a day), I heard a “ping” and felt extreme pain in my right side.
It continued to hurt as I walked to pick up my youngest after school, so on the way back I asked a friend who is a doctor (who happened to be sitting out on his front porch) about it. He said it could be a broken rib (cancer makes one more susceptible to this), and I should get it checked out.
So, after feeding the kids an early dinner, I took our youngest with me (since Jono was working) to our local Hospital’s Emergency department. This time I didn’t get the special treatment, since it had been over a month after my last chemo treatment.
I was delighted that one of the lovely med students I know through my work with the Christian Medical and Dental Society was working there that night – what a treat to see her!
Jono came and picked up our girl, and I stayed on until after midnight. I had a chest x-ray and pain meds and blood thinners, and I promised to go to the thrombosis clinic the next day. I got the kids off to school in the morning, then went straight to hospital where I stayed most of the day. I had a ct scan to look for blood clots in my lung. Thankfully all was clear: no broken ribs, no blood clots … only intense musculoskeletal pain, and I was set to hop a plane the next day!
I had a great time in NYC. I travelled with a friend from here, and we visited another friend who has been living there and is an amazing tour guide! We walked the High Line (former railroad tracks, re-purposed into a walking path with gorgeous gardens & art), ate lots of yummy and indulgent food (it was the week-end before my birthday, and I was determined to enjoy lots of treats!), and spent time in several parks. I got pooped on by a pigeon (good luck, so they say), which led to meeting an interesting man who keeps pet pigeons and hangs out with them in the park. He also told us about Larry who was an addict living on the streets until he got to know some pigeons – now he’s off drugs, off the streets, and doing much better. I could see Larry has a real compassionate love for these birds. I gained a deeper appreciation for pigeons that afternoon, but I’m still not a huge fan!
We went to Harlem, where we discovered a parade and street festival celebrating the anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation: what great timing! We also found a small black Jewish-Christian church service where the people were so friendly and welcoming, and the singing enthusiastic. We only stayed a short while, but we were glad to be there.
Pretty much everywhere we went, people were lovely and very warmly outgoing. We got into great conversations with a wide variety of people, including some models in a very hip spot in Harlem where I enjoyed an amazing basil-lime mocktail and some collard greens.
We also feasted on cake from Magnolia Bakery … oh my!
I am so grateful for friends to enjoy life with, to laugh with and cry with. We continue to be deeply thankful for so many who make such a difference for our family.
So, how am I doing? Well, my side still hurts quite a lot, three and a half weeks later. I went to my physiotherapist, and when I did the exercises he gave me I ended up with bruising. I’m taking a break from those exercises until I can see him again next week…
My side effects from the chemo seem to be improving. Occasionally I have normal feeling in my right hand, and I seem to have increased feeling in my left hand and my feet. This is often prickly or painful burning, but I’m hopeful it’s a sign of better things to come. I don’t think I have suffered from much hearing loss (although I sometimes wonder if my children have!), and while I continue to bruise easily, most of my bruises are healing up well. A doctor discovered my magnesium was extremely low, and since I’ve been taking supplements my muscle cramps have significantly decreased.
I’m still quite puffy, and that can be uncomfortable as well as inconvenient: most of my clothes don’t fit! I’m thankful for a friend who made me two pairs of shorts!
I’m coughing a lot these days, and feeling quite tired. I often experience shortness of breath. The cancer was significantly reduced during the first chemo I underwent, but a recent scan shows it has grown a bit. I’m meant to be starting a new chemo treatment next week. I’ve heard this one is quite effective, with fewer side effects than the previous chemo treatment. It’s taken orally at home, which is convenient. I’m hopeful that this will make a good difference for me.
I appreciate the warmer weather, and enjoy the garden and birds. I like sitting outside in the shade. I’m so glad to be able to spend more time with our children who are on summer holidays.
I’m grateful for you who care for us in so many ways. I am often encouraged by people in lovely, unexpected ways. What a gift you are – thank you!